Interview with Christine Amsden1. What was unique about the setting of The Immortality Virus and how did it enhance or take away from the story?
The Immortality Virus is set over four hundred years in the future, centuries after a virus is released that stops human aging as we know it. Perpetual youth and potential immortality – nearly everyone’s dream – yet the story is presented in a dystopian light. Why? You’ll have to read it to find out.
Some reviewers have claimed that the setting itself – the world – is almost like the main character in this story. I wish I had thought of it first, but I like the idea.
2. What specific themes did the author emphasize throughout the novel? What do you think he or she is trying to get across to the reader?
As in most dystopian view of the future, there is a great deal of emphasis on the mistakes humans make that lead to their downfall. Often the very thing we want the most – eternal youth – is the worst thing for us, not individually, but as a society. The cycle of life and death renews and invigorates. Immortality stagnates and destroys.
Yet there is hope. The best and worst of humanity is showcased in this novel.
3. Do the characters seem real and believable? Can you relate to their predicaments? To what extent do they remind you of yourself or someone you know?
Grace has been shaped by her world into the sort of woman who has a tough exterior, yet inside she still cares deeply for people. She’s not me. She’s not anyone I know, but she feels like someone. I would say there’s a lot of me in her, especially the parts of me that like to dream about what I could be when put to the test.
4. How do characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events trigger such changes?
Grace, a P.I., is hired to find the man who released the virus that stopped aging – if he is still alive. At the beginning of the book she is lonely and cynical, unwilling to have a real friendship because they have never lasted. The events in the book expose her to real danger. She might not live through it. The events in the story and particularly the people she meets convince her to embrace the moment, and to accept friends when she can.
5. In what ways do the events in the books reveal evidence of the author’s world view?
It is dangerous to try to discern the world view of an author by reading his or her work – especially a single work, because readers bring their own world view into the mix. Many think of The Immortality Virus as dark, and it is. Many have noticed the light, but not all of them. Yet if there is a hint of my world view in there somewhere, it is in the light, or at leas tin the mix. Extraordinary events bring out the best and worst humanity has to offer.
6. Did certain parts of the book make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way? Did this lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?
Violence makes me a little uncomfortable. I write it when it makes sense, but I wish it weren’t a reality.
7. Was there a basis for your story? A previous experience? Something else?
A daydream, perhaps? Speculative fiction is often about life, but it isn’t about my life. There’s a certain safety in that for both the reader and the writer, yet in the abstract, science fiction says a lot about who we are as people.
8. What research did you have to perform to back up your story? Any research which really opened your eyes or gave you new respect for a topic or profession?
I did some research on genetics, viruses, the spread of viruses, and the ability of those viruses to make permanent changes in the human genome. It’s a complicated topic, and I certainly have a great deal of respect for the scientists who study these topics!
9. What is your method for writing a book? A certain amount of hours every day? A certain routine? Are you character/story builder or an outliner or some other method?
I try to write for a few hours every day. I go for a mix of pushing myself to get the work done and pausing to listen to my muse – often if I’m struggling, there’s a reason. I do a lot of prep work, but not usually in a strict outline. I’m more of a brainstormer. I will spend weeks thinking about characters, major plot points, and doing world building, but I try to leave things loose enough that when I start writing, the characters and story can take over.
10. How do you get past writers block or distractions like the internet?
Writer’s block means there’s a problem with the story. Getting past it involves reflection, often away from the computer. A nice long walk or a hot bath are great cures for writer’s block. Sometimes, you have to get away from the story for a day, a week, or a month.
Distractions are another thing entirely. My strategy if I just can’t focus is to set a timer – 45 minutes – GO! I’m often amazed at what I can push out in that time frame, and it gives me an end point to work towards. After 45 minutes, I can goof around for a while before getting back on task.
11. Favorite book from childhood.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
12. What’s on your desk? Can you see your desk? Describe what you see when you look around.
I have a desk? Hold on, let me move some things and check… no, more stuff under my stuff. Something has to be holding it all up though, right?
My study is insane. To do lists buried so deeply I’ll never find them again, artwork from my kids, notes, books, wires that connect devices to my computer… About once a year I go on a mission to seek and destroy unnecessary clutter. Afterwards, for a few weeks, I can see the surface of my desk and it feels wonderful. But alas, it never lasts.
Thank you so much for having me here today! I’m always thrilled to hear from readers. You can learn more about my books, including The Immortality Virus, at http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Find me @ChristineAmsden.